Sunday, May 15, 2011

Finding my voice

Larry Brooks says "writing voice is like air: If you can smell it, something is cooking, and it may not be appetising to everyone." He says the best style is to write cleanly and crisply. And simply. "Sort of like that breath of fresh air, the hallmark of which is that it doesn't smell like anything at all. It's just, well, pleasant. It flows. It goes down easy."

He also says voice "...will come to you, first in a whisper, and finally with a proud and stubborn shout. And once it announces itself and declares who you are as a writer, allow it to take over from there."

I have my voice for my weekly CSA newsletters. I use the same first person with omniscent voice-over commentary in gardening articles.

I'm having to amend that voice for my romances, but I think I'm getting closer...


  1. Hi Ana,

    Interesting concept, more than one voice! Yet, it makes sense. Writing articles is more tell than show, because words in non-fiction tend toward expressing fact and explanation of such in a precise, almost clinical manner.

    Sometimes, though, when reading news reports/articles in papers/magazines one comes across a stunning unique voice, one that has turned a mediocre piece of reporting into a rivetting edge-of-seat read without it being gross sensationalism or airing journo fantasy.

    In fiction show is "vital" in conveying atmosphere, character persona and creation of a riveting take-me-away read in their own unique writer voice. Of course, authors do it all the time, but do all of them? How much editorial input kills or alters a once unique voice (style)? I'm talking serious edits/revisions, and complete rewrites to editorial specifications. It happens, and did happen at Orion Publishing when the senior editor requested revision after revision. She then, suddenly, much to the chagrin of the author, said:"I don't like this at all, go back to the original manuscript." Therein lies a lesson for all editors, if it works don't try and fix it to your personal tastes." :o

    But, more about Writer Voice, tomorrow! ;)

  2. Hi Ana,I also tend to use different voices when I write non-fiction than fiction. My writing style tends to be spare and straightforward when I write newspaper articles (the fewer words to describe something, the better). But when I write fiction, I'm more illustrative (probably because of the command to show, rather than tell) and usually more playful, at least in dialogue. Great post!

  3. I have lots of different voices - my voice in an email is different from my voice in in a blog, my voice in a letter to an aged uncle is different from my voice in a letter to my grandson ... etc etc etc!

  4. Voice does tend to change depending on what we're writing. Even in different genres. A historic voice is different than a contemporary voice which is different from YA.

    Even my 'blogging' voice is a little different than my writing voice. And, yep, Paula, e-mails have a different voice, too! (Several, depending on the context and audience.)